Playable Perplexities: SSX

Game:  SSX

Platforms: PS3 and Xbox 360

Genre: Sports

Publisher:  EA Sports

Single Player

Rating E

When this game was first announced, it looked like Call of Duty Snowboard edition.  It looked like quite a departure, but I was a huge fan of SSX3 so I was determined to pick it up and play the crap out of it.  I was relieved to find that it wasn’t so gray and ‘modern’ and its still kept some of its silly charm from the previous games.  I had been seriously hurting for an SSX game, and there’s nothing else that can really fill that void.

Fast & Fun

I don’t normally touch sports games to be honest, but SSX is special in that sense.  At its core, it’s a snowboarding game, but its definitely more ridiculous and unrealistic than say, Shaun White Snowboarding.  These games also have RPG elements and tons of collectables, which combined I find extremely appealing.  Also, its super entertaining.

I didn’t play SSX On Tour, or Blur, so I can’t comment on them – but in a departure from SSX3, the new SSX does not have a free roam.  Everything is laid out by picking your game mode, then playing on a track-by-track basis. This was a bit disappointing for me, because some of the most fun I had in 3 was just boarding around collecting snowflake things to unlock ridiculous outfits for my dudes.  In the new game, you can still collect money and buy outfits and boards, but it’s more stats based and less fun than it used to be.

Mountains forever and ever.

Also disappointing was a few of the character redesigns.   At their core, they are all still the same characters, but they have all had their ridiculous dials turned down.  You can no longer ride down the mountain as Psymon with a wifebeater on, because he just looks like a slightly alternative looking boarder now.  My boyfriend put it best – “Its like everyone from SSX 3 realized they had to grow up and get jobs, so they couldn’t look so crazy any more”.  They are all dressed for practical snowboarding (apart from, you know, the crazy magnetic snowboards).

In SSX’s closest approximation of a story mode, Zoe is putting an SSX team together to tackle 9 deadly descents in 9 distinct mountain ranges all over the world modeled using geotag data from NASA (!).  Also, geotagging is apparently their jam now, as on top of weird snowflake things you can collect geotags that have been dropped by other players online.  It’s a little silly seeing someone’s avatar pop up when you collect them but it’s a pretty neat feature non the less.  It’s also a pretty good way to collect money to buy cool stuff.

There’s no multiplayer per se, but if you’re signed in online (and onto EA’s RiderNet) you can upload the ‘ghosts’ of your runs to the cloud if you’re on Xbox and compete with your friends and rivals online over who has the best run time, or trick score.  No local racing multiplayer. They’ve added a bunch of new ‘other’ slot items: body armor, ice picks, oxygen tanks, extreme cold gear, wingsuits, and a few other things I haven’t managed to unlock yet.

A few of the game's stars.

Speaking of that, I found I hit the “I suck at this game” wall way sooner than I did with any of the other games.  At first it was red and fun, and then after a certain point it almost feels impossible.  In fact, it even gives you the option to skip the run with no actual penalty to you (except embarrassing defeat).  Why would you put that in a game if you didn’t expect people to be able to get past it?  And I’m not good at this game, but I’m not bad at it.  I hit this wall about the third peak when all of a sudden I was expected to hit points in the 6 million mark.  Inexplicably, the game decided that for 2 of the mountains I was to outmaneuver an avalanche with a reverse view reminiscent of those annoying levels in Crash Bandicoot.  Out of nowhere.  For no reason.  And then never again!

The controls actually received what I thought was a significant upgrade.  You can use the classic configuration if you like, but once you get used to the new dual analog control scheme its much smoother to use.  A lot of rolling up to side to down to pull of the mid air grabs, and instead of holding down the x or a button to prepare a jump, you hold down the right joystick.  You use the triggers to pull off your super uber trick when your tricky bar is full and Run DMC starts to play.  Heehee.

The music in these games was always awesome, and SSX doesn’t disappoint.  It’s a little wub-wub heavy, but who am I actually kidding, I love the stuff. The rest of the soundtrack is filled with the random yearly licensed selection that EA pumps into all their sports games (I hear FIFA 2012 is going to have a killer soundtrack).  That’s not to say it’s a bad soundtrack, but I imagine it will get old when you hear most of it in like 4 other games.  On the plus side, if you hate the music, you can upload your own to make a custom playlist for yourself that is remixed on the fly in the same way that the games own soundtrack is.  An impressive addition.

Dat mountain.

It has a remarkable amount of depth for a sports game, but I can’t really write it off as a sports game, it’s a little more unique than that.  The game still offers some of the ridiculous charm that the other games possessed, but overall it’s been a little too diluted.  None of the outfits are as fun as they used to be, and I feel that making the game more realistic detracts from the experience.  I mean come on; you’re basically a snowboarding magician, why can’t your head be on fire (lookin’ at you SSX 3).  I’m going to cut this review a little short because I can’t really go on about revolutionary mechanics or a killer story, but it’s a solid game and if you loved the previous games, chances are you’ll love this one.  It’s Tricky!

 

Graphics 10/10 (the mountains are sweet ok D:)

Story: N/A

Music: 8/10

Money’s Worth: 9/10

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